Wednesday, October 07, 2009

They went thadaway!

If you look at enough video covers (as I do), you start to detect patterns. "Patterns" is a nicer way to phrase it. "Rip-offs" is probably more accurate (as I illustrated in a previous post):

But I can appreciate more subtle forms of the art that doesn't just scream "Rip off". Take, for example, a semi-obscure James Coburn movie from 1966 titled Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round. For film buffs, the movie was primarily notable for featuring the first film appearance of Harrison Ford (at the tender age of 23). That's too bad, as the movie is a serviceable caper film all on its own. When I looked it up on the IMDb, however, I was taken by the DVD cover art it displayed:

I did some quick searching and found that, like the DVD covers of most older films, this was new art manufactured from original ads. Two of the original posters are below, the second being where they got the image of Coburn for the DVD cover:

So the thing that interested me most was those arrows pointing left and right. Where did that stylistic choice come from? Well, let's look at the plot. The main character is a con-man and thief who assumes multiple identities and travels back and forth across the United States in the course of the film. All the while, the authorities are in pursuit and doing things like staking out airports to try and apprehend him. Does that plot sound familiar? It should:

It would appear I'm not the first to notice this. DVD Savant beat me to it (smart little bugger that he is), but I can still admire the effort. The DVD of Dead Heat was released only a four months after the DVD for Catch Me If You Can. The release dates are not quite close enough to capitalize on the film's popularity, and the artwork is too subtle to fool people into confusing one for another. No, this is more a subliminal work, and one that I applaud. If only more DVD cover art had such finesse.

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